From statehouses to Congress to the White House, Republicans across the country have spent the last years relentlessly attacking Americans’ health care. However, now that Trump administration has taken its most public step yet in choosing to fully back a lawsuit that would repeal health care, Republicans are in full disaster mode  — outraged not at what Trump is doing, but rather at the public mess he’s causing by so clearly showing where they stand on health care.

A slew of Republican officials recognize the mess they’re in:

Tom Davis, Former Head Of National Republican Campaign Committee: “The Average Health-care Recipient Won’t Say, ‘It’s The Evil Courts That Struck It Down’…They’ll Say, ‘Oh Trump Stuck It Down.’” “‘The average health-care recipient won’t say, ‘It’s the evil courts that struck it down,’’ said Tom Davis, former head of the National Republican Campaign Committee. ‘They’ll say, ‘Oh, Trump struck it down.’ That’s the problem. So there has to be a Plan B. And with Democrats controlling the House you’ll get a Plan B- at best.’” [Daily Beast, 3/26/19]

GOP Strategist: “I Just Don’t Understand How Many Times We Have To Play This Game To Finally Learn The Lessons.” “‘I just don’t understand how many times we have to play this game to finally learn the lessons. We have seen how this turns out, and it ain’t pretty for us,’ one Republican strategist who worked on midterm elections told CBS News. ‘The strategy needs to be keeping the focus on Democrats…not on us.'” [CBS News, 3/28/19]

Senior Republican Leadership Aide: “Whoever Planted This Idea In The President’s Head Should Be Drawn And Quartered.” “‘I feel comfortable saying that I speak for almost, if not all, Republican senators when I say that this is the last thing they want to discuss,’ said one senior Republican leadership aide. ‘Whoever planted this idea in the president’s head should be drawn and quartered.'” [CBS News, 3/28/19]

Senior Republican Aide On Trump Decision: “It Is The Equivalent Of Punching Yourself In The Face Repeatedly.” ‘It’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard,’ a senior Republican aide told the Post. ‘It is the equivalent of punching yourself in the face repeatedly.'” [Talking Points Memo, 3/27/19]

Top GOP Strategist: “WTF Is Wrong With Them?” “‘They are completely tone deaf,’ texted one of the party’s top strategists. ‘How bout a few more victory laps on Mueller while you can get away with it? WTF is wrong with them?’” [Daily Beast, 3/26/19]

Former Administration Official: “And There’s Something Unusual About Him Stepping On A Good Message?” “But seasoned Trump hands were hardly surprised at the rake Trump had placed his foot on. ‘And there’s something unusual about him stepping on a good message?’ one former administration official said, laughing when asked about the timing of the announcement.” [Daily Beast, 3/26/19]

Unnamed Republican Senator: “We Would Be Crazy To Try To Go Through What We Went Through Again.” “Another Republican senator said, ‘We would be crazy to try to go through what we went through again,’ referring to the failed 2017 effort to repeal ObamaCare, which fell one vote short in the Senate.” [The Hill, 3/27/19]

Another Unnamed Republican Senator: “It Doesn’t Seem To Make Sense Politically.” “‘It doesn’t seem to make sense politically,’ said one Republican senator, who questioned why Trump would give Democrats a new avenue of attack.” [The Hill, 3/27/19]

 

As do a variety of media reports:

GOP’s Top Pollsters Told Daily Beast That Private Data Showed Health Care Cost Republicans More Than A Dozen House Seats In 2018. “One of the party’s top pollsters told The Daily Beast that private data showed that the issue of health care had likely cost Republicans more than a dozen seats in the House in 2018. ‘It was mostly all pre-existing conditions,’ the pollster said. ‘Where they got the big run. Where they went from 20 seats to winning 40 seats, was on health care.’” [Daily Beast, 3/26/19]

Washington Post: Republicans Blast Trump For Making It Harder For Them To Lie About Health Care. “Now Trump publicly recommitted his party to total repeal, which has got Republicans angry with him. But what’s amusing is that this actually is the GOP’s current stance. Sure, Republicans are rhetorically committed to keeping some form of protections for preexisting conditions (just not the ones Obamacare has put in place). But as Peter Suderman notes, there’s still no serious GOP plan for actually doing this, precisely because Republicans won’t make the hard policy choices necessary to create such a plan. So their position, functionally, is still full repeal. Republicans just want to be able to say they’re also for protecting preexisting conditions, without saying how.” [Washington Post, 3/27/19]

Axios: Trump’s Going It Alone On ACA Lawsuit. “Congressional Republicans are not happy about President Trump’s decision to up the ante in the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act… Other Republican lawmakers and aides told Axios they can’t fathom why the president would want to re-litigate an issue that has been a clear loser for Republicans — especially while riding a pretty good news cycle…The bottom line: Republicans are in this boat now, like it or not.” [Axios, 3/28/19]

New York Times: Trump Sided With Mick Mulvaney In Push To Nullify Health Law. “Mr. Trump has declared that he has kept his promises, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Grogan argued, and as a candidate he campaigned on repealing the health law. His base of voters would love it. Besides, they argued, Democrats have been campaigning successfully on health care, and Republicans should try to claim the issue for themselves…As Republicans pointed fingers, House Democrats began moving legislation on Wednesday to ensure safeguards for people with pre-existing conditions and to hold down the costs of health insurance and prescription drugs. Ms. Eshoo, the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, said the bills were needed to counter what she described as ‘a monstrous attack’ on the health law by the Trump administration.” [New York Times, 3/27/19]

McConnell’s Leadership Team Incensed At Trump Administration for Rekindling A Fight That Served Democrats Well In 2018. “Members of Mr. McConnell’s leadership team were incensed at Mr. Mulvaney and allies like the acting White House budget director, Russell Vought, for rekindling a fight that served Democrats so well in 2018 and could harm vulnerable incumbents in 2020, according to two senior aides with direct knowledge of the situation. The maneuver may make it much less likely that Mr. Vought, the chief of staff’s handpicked successor to head the Office of Management and Budget, will be confirmed by the Senate, the aides said.” [New York Times, 3/27/19]

Wall Street Journal: “The White House Is Increasingly At Odds With Congressional Republicans Over The Party’s Health-Care Message For The 2020 Election Campaign.” “A growing number of Republicans in Congress want to focus on transparency, competition and other free-market solutions to rising costs, all as part of their platform for 2020. But Trump administration officials are taking steps to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, including a move this week to help scuttle the law through the courts. Shaping the Trump administration strategy to dismantle the ACA are a handful of key White House policy advisers who have the ear of the president, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. They are also impeding some initiatives by Health and Human Services designed to lower drug pricing, the people said.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/27/19]

Wall Street Journal On Trump’s ‘Plan’: “It Was Difficult To Find Anyone On Capitol Hill Who Could Say How Such An Improvement Might Take Shape.” “‘The president is very clear that he understands the importance of health care,’ said Ms. Collins, who cast a key vote against the GOP effort to kill the ACA in 2017. ‘In order to do that, he has to have a detailed plan that is going to be an improvement over the ACA.’ As of Wednesday, it was difficult to find anyone on Capitol Hill who could say how such an improvement might take shape, a fact that Democrats were quick to note.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/27/19]

The Hill: GOP Senators Blindsided By Trump On Obamacare. “If Trump had told GOP senators of his plans, they say they would have sought to convince him not to throw their party back into a war over health care — the issue Democrats believe was instrumental to their takeover of the House in last year’s midterms…But the 2020 map is seen as more challenging, and many in the GOP can’t understand why Trump would plunge them into a fight over health care just as he was surfing a wave of good news brought by the end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.” [The Hill, 3/27/19]

CBS News: Trump’s Pivot To Health Care Catches Republican Lawmakers Flat-footed. “Fresh off what he and his allies saw as a major victory in the conclusion of the special counsel investigation, President Trump surprised his party this week by embracing a politically perilous subject: health care…The GOP’s failed attempt to repeal Obamacare in 2017 had a galvanizing effect among Democrats. CBS News exit polling from the 2018 midterms found health care to be the top issue for voters in an election where Democrats picked up 40 House seats. And 54 percent of midterm voters disapproved of the president…The issue of health care is again center stage for Democrats as their 2020 presidential primary ramps up.” [CBS News, 3/28/19]